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The ‘Habanada’ Chili Is A Habanero With All The Flavor, No Heat

Have you ever bitten into a raw habanero to see what it tastes like? If you’re a crazy chili-head like me, you probably got a split second of fruity, floral flavor before the powerful heat of the chili blew your mouth up. A lot of spicy chilis have flavor qualities like the habanero, but the spiciness of the chilies keeps us from enjoying that full experience.

Thanks to some researchers at Cornell University, you can now enjoy the full flavor that a habanero has — with none of the heat.

A few years ago, Cornell’s Dr. Michael Mazourek developed the “Habanada,” named for the fact that it is a habanero with “nada” of the heat. After getting seeds of a similar, non-spicy habanero plant from New Mexico, he went to work. Dr. Mazourek experimented with everything from lab assays to cross-breeding the variety with regular habaneros to try and come up with a chili that had no heat, but showcased the unique flavor of the habanero. Thousands of peppers and 13 breeding generations later, he finally came up with the commercialized form of this new chili.

After doing incredibly well at trade shows and The World Food Expo in Milan, the chili pepper began to appear in top restaurants across the country over the past year, with “Chef’s Table” star Dan Barber and his NYC restaurant, Blue Hill Farm, being one of the more well-known places to feature it recently.

As people fall in love with this new chili, more avenues to acquire it are becoming available. While you’re more likely to find it in high-end restaurants nowadays, you can also purchase some seeds to grow your own, if you desire.

As a chili lover, I’m super curious to try these out and see what this heatless chili is all about. And hopefully, I’ll be able to enjoy more than just a split-second of that fruity, tasty habanero experience.

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.

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